Everything You Thought You Knew

A few days ago, I remembered another super fun thing about Depression that I don’t think I’ve mentioned before- mostly because I don’t think I even realized it, myself. Ready for it?

You will never be able to really trust your own perceptions or moods again. Not when things are going well, and definitely not when they’re going badly.

Shall I explain?

Take a hypothetical example of someone with Depression who’s been doing really well with it- maybe still a little (lot) on the forgetful side thanks to the disease,  but not spending a lot of time crying over nothing, and finally getting back to normal. This person has her moments of despair, like when she looks at the housework she has to do every day and realizes that she never, ever gets to retire from that much-hated job, but she generally holds up well under the stresses of daily life. She has moments of real joy, and is able to be grateful for the ridiculous number of blessings in her life.

Maybe this person has a dream. Maybe this person thinks she has talent at something (let’s say painting), and maybe her particular, life-long dream is to do it professionally. Perhaps this hypothetical person sometimes lets herself really dream, to think big, to wish for the best and to take steps toward it. Maybe she thinks, “This is going to happen. Maybe not right away, but it will.”

And then maybe… honestly, maybe she’s a bit hormonal one day*. Doubts start to creep in. She wonders if maybe she was wrong about the whole damned thing, that God was playing a joke on her when he put this one desire in her heart, that she’s not good enough. That she’ll never be good enough. Maybe she realizes that there are literally thousands of people in the world with the exact same dream as her, dreamed just as passionately, who will never see the result they’re wishing for. And she wonders why the hell she should have ever thought she was any different.

So she recognizes feelings of depression and goes back to what she learned about identifying negative thoughts and changing them… and she stalls.

Why? Because for the first time she honestly doesn’t know whether these negative thoughts are actually coming from the Depression. She’s struck with the realization that there’s a chance reality is actually tapping her on the shoulder and saying, “Um, honey? It’s time we had a little talk.”

Is she feeling down and wondering whether she should give up (not give up painting, God forbid, but give up The Big Dream) because it’s a bad kind of day for moods in general, or because it’s the kind of day when reality can break through the shell of artificial hope that our hypothetical case study has built up around herself as a defense mechanism?

So yeah, it makes you question everything, and therefore feel like shit for not just appreciating what you have and being willing to let go of what’s probably an absolutely ridiculous dream, anyway. Or is it? There’s no way for you to know.

Depression’s a slippery, slimy, dishonest bastard. But maybe it’s the same for everyone… I wouldn’t know.

*I read about a study once that showed that bad moods due to PMS are mostly in the sufferer’s head. Studies are bullshit.

About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, three cats with more personality than most people she meets, and the saddest-looking dog on the planet. Her debut novel, Bound, was released in June 2014 and is available in e-book and paperback. tinyurl.com/n84v2nn View all posts by Kate Sparkes

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